Toronto couple recalls war on the home front

Freda McDougall remembers her childhood in Toronto during the Second World War.

“We had to have lights out,” she said. “Everything was blacked out. So (my grandfather) would have to go around with a flashlight and tell people, ‘You shouldn’t be letting any light out,’ just in case they ever came to attack us.”

Memories of wartime proved even more vivid said Freda McDougall, 81, because her grandfather was an air raid warden in Toronto.

She also recalled that children in schools hiding under their school desks, people rushing into their basements and diving for shelter. She said that this was a normal drill in Canada, during the Second World War. She emphasized that the war on the home front proved just as important as the war abroad.

Maxwell McDougall, 87, Freda’s husband, recalled facing his own dangers training with mortars at the military training facility camp in Petawawa, Ont. He was a sergeant in a potentially dangerous job.

“A mortar is like a big tube. … You drop a bomb down it and boom. … And when they’d dismantle the mortar,” McDougall said, “I would catch the bomb.”

Although his job posed risks, he never suffered any injuries working with the mortars.

Neither Freda nor Maxwell McDougall went overseas to physically fight. Still, they were both exposed to the affects of the war on the home front.